Bolton finally won a game in the Championship against Sheffield Wednesday ending their near 13 hour wait for a goal in the process. Goals courtesy of Sammy Ameobi and an own-goal from Sam Hutchinson handed Wanderers victory but in truth everyone left the game wondering how a cricket score wasn’t achieved given the plethora of chances both teams had to score.
Wanderers welcomed back Josh Vela to the starting line-up as he replaced Jem Karacan who wasn’t in the matchday 18. The game began with Ameobi and Adam Armstrong having the only shots in anger but on the 10th minute the miracle, the moment we had all been waiting and praying for, arrived. Ameobi skinned a Wednesday player on the edge of the box before curling a beautiful strike past Joe Wildsmith to end Wanderers’ drought and send the Macron into delirium. Personally, I was shocked and genuinely had no idea what to do with myself. In that moment it felt as if a huge weight was lifted and the relief was palpable.
As the second half wore on Ben Alnwick was tested by a Ross Wallace effort and from the resulting corner David Wheater sent Gary Madine away on the break whose pass had just too much weight on it for Josh Vela to do anything more than force Wildsmith into a standard block. It would be the first of many occasions when the two linked up during the game and how neither managed to score is a mystery. Towards the end of the half the game became scrappy and this was typified by an almighty scramble in the Bolton area that ended with Mark Beevers putting in a tremendous goal line block to deny Adam Reach. Just before the break Wanderers had a great chance to go further ahead when Ameobi broke away from a Wednesday corner but was felled cynically by Jack Hunt, a challenge that earned him both and yellow card and adulation from his team’s supporters. Thus, the Whites were ahead at half-time.
However, they seemed very keen to chuck their advantage away at the start of the second half as substitute, Jordan Rhodes, missed two sitters right in front of goal and ex-Wanderer, Barry Bannan, had two decent efforts saved by Alnwick. It looked like being a half with our backs against the wall but then Parky withdrew Armstrong to allow Filipe Morais to return from suspension. It seemed the substitute made Wildsmith in the Wednesday goal lose his concentration as he passed the ball straight to Madine in the box but he recovered well to deny Vela as he shot first time from Madines cross. The proceeding corner was taken by Morais and a deflection off substitute, Sam Hutchinson, send it into the net for 2-0. Again, who could have predicted that this would happen. Wanderers had scored twice in a game. Madness.
Immediately afterwards, unfortunately, it looked as though things were about to turn sour. Vela hustled the ball off Reach and fed it to and unmarked Madine right in front of goal, only for the big striker, who had had an excellent game, to hit the post. If you don’t take your chances in football you get punished and Bolton were indeed punished moments later as a deflected Gary Hooper shot found Rhodes who saw his goalbound header handled by Morais. While most people expected an obvious penalty to be awarded Kieran Lee smashed the loose ball home and the referee gave the goal. What was odd was that Morais was only booked when many felt it should have been a red. What followed this incident was utter carnage.
Rhodes yet again missed a sitter where he headed the ball past Alnwick but the backspin on his effort made it spin away from goal for the impressive Mark Little to clear while at the other end Craig Noone and Morais were causing problems with the latter having a great long-rangedc effort saved by Wildsmith. Lucas Joao came on to replace Steven Fletcher and must have thought he’d scored when his stab towards goal wrong-footed Alnwick, only for the keepers’ feet to stop the ball going in. Then came the big moment of controversy.
Bolton had possession by their box but as they tried to clear it the ball hit the referee and bounced into Lee’s path. He drove at David Wheater, who himself had seen a goal bound header cleared off the line, and went tumbling down when the defender appeared to swing a leg at him. For all the world it looked like a penalty would be given. Then Lee was booked for diving and the stadium erupted with relief. At this point, were I a Wednesday fan, id have worked out my lucky wasn’t in.
The game the finished without much incident bar the 6 minutes of added time and the stretching off of Rhodes after an aerial collision with Wheater. As the full-time whistle blew the stadium yet again burst into joy and relief as the Whites had finally done it. Roll on QPR next week for the next chapter of what I hope will be the Great Escape.